Djokovic, Federer, Nadal advance
French Open champion Garbine Muguruza survived a fierce challenge from US teenager Kayla Day Sunday to reach the fourth round of the WTA Indian Wells hard court tournament.
The seventh-seeded Spaniard had to dig in to subdue the hard-hitting Californian 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 and set up a meeting with 10th seeded Ukrainian Elina Svitolina.
Day, last year’s US Open junior champion, had reached the third round with an upset of Australian Open semi-finalist Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.
She needed little more than half an hour to seize a set from Muguruza, whose progress so far in 2017 has been hindered by injuries.
Muguruza saved break points in the fifth and 11th games of the second set, finally converting her own first break chance to force the third set.
By then Day was wilting in the baking heat of Stadium Court. Muguruza broke her in the second game of the final set and again in the final game as the left-handed youngster surrendered with a double-fault.
“I think she played very good,” Muguruza said. “She served very well. I think the first set I didn’t play good. My level was not there. My shots were not there, and right away she took advantage and she won.
“And then I didn’t let that frustrate me. I reset my mind. I think at the time I was playing a little bit better and better, even though that first set was a little bit bad. But I think she played good.
“I’m surprised with how she handled center court,” added Muguruza, who was astonished—and touched—to learn that Day had named one of her dogs Garbine after seeing the Spaniard play at the Australian Open several years ago.
If that youthful admiration made it harder for Day on the court, Muguruza said, it was a problem many on the WTA face.
“I feel the same,” she said. “When I play with all those big names and they are older than me. That’s being very lucky to play with your idols.” Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic launched his bid for a sixth ATP Indian Wells Masters crown with a two-set triumph over Kyle Edmund as the stars shone Sunday in the California desert.
The 46th-ranked Edmund served for the second set at 5-3, but world number two Djokovic broke him en route to a 6-4, 7-6 (7/5) triumph.
His reward is a tough third-round clash with former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, a 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 winner over fellow Argentine Federico del Bonis.
“I think I played very well in the first set,” Djokovic said. “Second set was obviously up and down. But credit to Kyle for playing some really aggressive tennis.
“He made a lot of winners in the beginning and midway through the second.
There was not much wrong I did. I did miss some forehands. But other than that, it was a very solid match. Good, quality tennis, a good test.”
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal also reached the third round, Federer flying through with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over France’s Stephane Robert in just 51 minutes.
Nadal opened his account with a steady 6-3, 6-2 victory over Argentina’s Guido Pella.
The three stars are packed together in a remarkable bottom quarter of the draw.
But Djokovic said he can’t afford to think about a possible quarter-final clash with either of his longtime rivals with del Potro coming up.
While Djokovic has won 12 of their 16 career meetings, the Argentine handed him a crushing two-tiebreak defeat in the first round of the Rio Olympics—a defeat Djokovic avenged in Acapulco this month.
“Big guy, big serve, big forehand,” Djokovic said of del Potro.
“Definitely not the draw that you like early in the tournament and that you wish for, but it is what it is,” added Djokovic, who is trying to get back to the winner’s circle after a shock second-round exit at the Australian Open and a quarter-final loss to Nick Kyrgios in Acapulco.
Ninth-seeded Federer, resurgent after a 2016 season marred by injury, downed Nadal in an epic Australian Open final to secure his 18th Grand Slam title.
He hit a speed bump in Dubai this month, failing to convert three match points in a third-round loss to Evgeny Donskoy—but he was firing on all cylinders against the 81st-ranked Robert.—AFP